S.m. Torres 

The Butterflies Are Hard to Tell at Night

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S.m. Torres recently graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She is a first-generation American, born from her Peruvian mother and Costa Rican father. She may be a gringa still, but she holds her culture dear to her heart, and explores other Latino avenues as she resides in Sunrise, Florida. This is her first publication

If you want people to love you, stay as still as possible. When you’re not sure if you’re still breathing, you’re close, but not quite. You should stop thinking. Stop thinking. Just forget about the world and all those anxieties about whether people can see you, can see what’s inside of you, can see that you’re actually a horrible person and that you’re trying so damn hard to hide it. Just forget about it. Just be still. Stop thinking.

But it’s hard to stop, isn’t it? And you think, carajo, why can’t I do it? Because you worry too much, that’s why, but you have to keep concentrating. Forget you have flaws. Forget that you even exist. Be still, goddamn it! He’ll love you once you’re still. He’ll murmur, mi muñeca preciosa, and you will know that he loves you. And he will love you, I promise, because now you are his fantasy. You are everything and more. He has paid you to be your God and he will adore you just as long as you keep perfectly still. And then everything will be fine.


“Smile, muñeca,” he murmurs, molding my lips into a tight grin. “You are prettier when you smile for me.”

Maybe I’m not human, but what does it matter. Mierda, some people call me, ripping my clothes off or slapping my face or bending me over. I am the paid victim that never cries or screams or moves. I take it all, I do it all. Mierda. Piece of shit, they say, like my skin. Eh, but you know how it is. The harshest insults are always feminine, the weak are always labeled girls, and no matter how many times a client will look at my cock, it is always the same logic: there is no such thing as a prostituto. Mierda.

But this client. He is much nicer. Loves to dress me up and play, like a kid. And he is always careful. His fingers tremble when he dresses me, ghosting down my skin as he slips the garment on. The entire time I’m not supposed to talk or I’ll ruin everything. Dolls don’t talk or think or breathe, but there’s only so much I can do, so he excuses that last one. And dolls don’t move. He moves me however he pleases as if I were his own prostitute doll he bought in a convenience store, and has one-sided conversations with me. Tells me about his life, about his job at the embassy, about how he hates talking to tourists, about the price of fish that week, about his sister in Spain and how she rarely calls even though he said he misses her, about things he notices in the plaza when he eats there for lunch, about little things, anything, everything. I listen to everything he ever tells me, which is always uttered in the faintest of whispers, so soft I’m not sure if he really means to talk to me per se or if I just to happen to be there to hear. Sometimes I wish I knew his name, but for now I call him Lalo.

When I first met him, I thought he was an idiot, one of those demented kinds that rarely talk and when they do, they talk simple. But Lalo’s just shy. Only talks when he wants to, only tells stories when he feels they need to be told. The first night we were together, we didn’t have sex—got paid 300 soles just to lie still and let him put make-up on me. So quiet. Lasted an hour at most, and it was over, but he would keep coming back. At first monthly, then weekly, until eventually I’d see him two or three times a week, depending on his mood and work schedule. He became a part of my life and I let him. I am his doll.

“So pretty when you smile,” he says before kissing me briefly on the lips.

I am also in love with him.


It’s safe to say that all the street fairies hate Bunny. It’s because she’s gorgeous and thirteen, which is why she’s so good at passing as the cutest buck-toothed girl in the red light district, but we all know she’s a fag like the rest of us. And it’s the way she bites her lip that really gets under their skin as she flirts her way to a client’s wallet, letting him think he’s got a real conejita in his hands. These men, they never learn. Or maybe they don’t care. You’d think they’d understand by now why the taxis don’t drive down these streets, why most men go to Miraflores.

But Bunny knows how to work them, knows that when one of those pot-bellied morenos stumbles out of a bar drunk off pisco liquor onto the highlighted orange streets, there’s a customer. She’s the kind of girl that lures you over, that cranes her neck back as she leans against one of the yellow ice cream wall advertisements, leading your eyes to the treat, to her creamy skin. Who wouldn’t want a taste of Spaniard colonialism if you knew it could be just one night’s dirty little secret? She’s the kind of girl who will whisper in your ear with her sweet, pubescent voice and trick you into believing everything about her; and if you speak English, she’ll pretend she speaks that too. Bunny will be everything you want her to be—it’s just that every other street fairy wants her to be a bitch.

 “Slow night,” she says, carefully sidestepping the garbage holes in the sidewalk as she paces back and forth. One time her heel got caught on the metal edges and promptly broke off, tipping over into a slush of rotten papaya, so she’s been paranoid about those squares ever since. She mutters, “I hate weekdays.”

I shrug.

“Sometimes I wish I had regulars when it’s slow, like you,” she muses, “but I don’t think I could ever deal with regulars. They’re too creepy.”

The way Bunny looks means she’s never dealt with a fetishist, at least beyond the pedophilic type. She wears a Japanese wig that she curls and puts in pigtails, and she dons little sailor girl outfits or something cute like that and gets the men who’ve always wanted to fuck their brother’s daughter, not the ones who want to cover her in peanut butter or shave all her body hair or rub themselves against her right ear for an hour or whatever people want to do to little girls nowadays. That’s why it is so easy for her to twirl her hair and ask, “Don’t you ever get scared one of them will go crazy?”

As if I have a choice. Steady income from regulars or starvation. You pick.

“All men are crazy,” I say. “We’re just objects in their delusions.”

“I don’t see what’s wrong with fantasy.”

She fixes her pleated baby blue miniskirt, leaning her head against the cement wall of the chifa restaurant we’re posted at and groans when she gets a whiff of all the Chinese food aromas coming from the kitchen. The neon lights illuminating from the restaurant’s window cascades down onto her face, blushing her all over in red and orange hues, and advertise her sexual glory to the rest of the world. I never knew why we chose this particular chifa restaurant when there are thousands all over Lima, where it is a little bit safer if we choose the better neighborhoods, but no. We stay in Callao. We stay here and watch miniature taxis drunkenly sway between pedestrians and count the bodegas beginning to close at ten-thirty. This chifa is a late-nighter, the kind that attracts drunks and people who want to do karaoke for cheap.  Someone is always singing Shakira at some point in the night or “Guantanamera.” There is one woman who comes every Wednesday to sing “A Puro Dolor,” and in the midst of her pure pain, just starts sobbing as she sings that by the time the song ends, you forget if it had lyrics at all. No one really cares though.

In an hour, we’ll have to move or one of the chino waiters will tell us we’re blocking customers (or that we’re aiming to steal them), but in the meantime Bunny resorts to her routine habit of counting the shard glasses on the houses’ gates across the street so she can forget she’s hungry. And every time she does this, she says, “They should get a real security gate.”

“They’re poor.”

“So am I, but you don’t see me cementing broken glass bottles on my walls and calling it security.”

She pushes herself off the wall, restless. When we used to be on the main streets, around this time Bunny would start teasing the other girls. Never did learn how to make friends, that one. She’d make some comment on some fairy’s tight skirt or square jawline and asu! The putas are fighting again. But here by the chifa, it’s just us, and the closest thing to excitement Bunny has is having one of the chino waiters try to throw plates at her.

Peering down the end of the sidewalk towards the main street, she perks up suddenly when she spots two young men at the intersection, lost and confused and hesitant to move in any direction. They stumble off the sidewalk, looking up for street signs that aren’t there, and head towards us. They are undecided wanderers, the perfect client. And so she calls, “Eeeeeey, calachos!” And when one of them looks up at her, she continues, “What’s a cute guy like you doing so late out here? Don’t you know the ceviche is no good at night?” She smirks. “The fish goes bad.”

Calachos?” The skinnier one scoffs, “We’re not from here.”

“Eh? Then what’s your trip to Callao for?” Bunny saunters toward them. “Looking for mariposas? Ah, but you better be careful with your net, boys—the butterflies are hard to tell at night.”

Bunny has always been one for word play—what Peruvian isn’t?—but sometimes she’s risky with all the double entendre, forgetting the nature of her flirtation. Some men don’t want to play games, don’t like tricks and sparkles. Those men break us. They’re the kind of guys who grab a butterfly to get a closer look, the kind that will rub the dust off their fingers, forgetting its dead flesh on their skin. Some men make you tense, and some men kill you. And I never really care to find out what kind of man a certain man is, but Bunny doesn’t know any better. Thinks when a man tries to chase you, to catch you, to hurt you, it’s all part of a game. Oh, she’s never dealt with these kinds of guys. She’s never been broken.

It is tense.

I start to hear taxis in the distance heading off to the highway and the clicks of the chino washing dishes in the back of the restaurant, and I start to hear the drunk lyrics to karaoke instrumentals and Bunny taking a step back when the fatter one steps up next to his skinny friend, and I start to hear my heartbeat and bells, bells from the host podium, bells from the music, bells from houses, bells getting louder and louder—and god, I hate those bells—and I remember that woman on Wednesday nights singing about her pain and my pain and I remember Bunny tripping over those garbage squares and her paranoia and my paranoia and I remember Bunny counting thirty-four broken bottles on the fence and if one of these bastards tries anything, just anything, then goddamn it then that fence will finally be called security.

“Heh,” the skinnier one says. “We’re not here for fags.”

Déjale, Bunny,” I whisper. I grab her shoulder.

She lets out a small chuckle, peering down at the ground as she says, “I’m just talking about butterflies. They’re just so pretty around here.”


I am lying on his bed, naked, and he is powdering talc everywhere on me. He starts with my face, shutting my eyes for the entire ritual, and begins to mask me with his hands. They are dry and I can sense the unevenness of the powder on my cheeks from his fingers smearing too close to the sharp edges of my face. He concentrates on covering my nose, tucking talc in the crevices of my nostrils; his fingers smell like babies covered in nickel, maybe ink, maybe both. I should be concentrating. His hands are too distracting, though. I can’t even open my eyes to focus on something else, and I don’t want to break the rules. So I wait.

Lalo is too quiet throughout this.

His breath reeks sometimes. He’ll hover his mouth over mine, puffing warm air from his nostrils, and linger, letting the stench from between his lips slip out. When he kisses me, I forget he tastes horrible because I am too busy remembering my dreams from last night. And when we kiss, I wonder about which dream is most like him, which image is the one I see in his soul. What is the beauty hidden beneath the camouflage of Lalo’s skin? Mexican skulls kissing the statues of angels crying rose petals. A piranha nibbling on my mother’s breasts. My legs are a harp and the Virgenes Del Sol dance and sing in the imaginary that is my womb. Turquoise turtles swimming in my veins. I sometimes wish I could dream of Lalo, but then he might cease to exist, and he already exists so little.    

When he kisses me, I feel heavy, the kind to feel self-conscious about, and I drift further and further into the bed until it gets dangerous. His fingers are turquoise turtles, hard and cracked and old; they are rare and they are gentle. They are heavy and knead into my skin, massaging my body as I sink deeper into the ocean of my thoughts. Everything becomes blue and I begin to suffocate. Lalo, I cannot take this and you know it, you know that I will lose control and gasp—I will try to breathe you in, I will try to open my eyes and see. You turn my skin into waves and make my sweat mist down to my groin. I cannot take this. I hate that you expect for me to float under your touch. I am too heavy.

It has nothing to do with his hands on my arms or my chest or my thighs than it does with everything I can’t hear in his brain. Turquoise turtles swimming in my veins, you are too mysterious, Lalo. Your gemstones are too rough to me; they are too difficult to find in your caves. Do you know what I mean, Lalo?

 Your kiss is so brief, so faint, that just like a dream, I wake up only to realize it ended. And yet my eyes remain closed because for you, I must pretend to not be real, and your kiss tantalizes me with their presence, forcing me to wake up in darkness after each one. You know that I yearn for you, you bastard, but you still hover your lips over mine, fluttering your fingers all over my body, flaunting yourself—and do you know how much I hate you when you flaunt yourself? Flaunting the power you have over me, flaunting the fact that I will give up my life for you, for your fantasy, and lie still before you as you dab your wealth on my face, in the whitest of powders, and emphasize how poor I am. You can afford me, but I cannot afford you, Lalo. Oh, but I would rob every bank, every person, every pocket just to buy you, my own fantasy.

You are a dream.

Always reaching for you, always wanting to understand you—I can’t help but hate you sometimes, Lalo, and wish I could buy my freedom from you and open my eyes, instead of lying here, blinded. I know you are nothing but my own imagination, but I wish you weren’t—you are too sweet and too loving, and your hands caress me in a way that makes me feel alive even when I wish I were dead. You are too shy, Lalo, only able to love me when I’m not looking, when I am not there, when I am not human. Is that why you won’t let me open my eyes, Lalo? Will you disappear from me?

If you could be brave and look at me as I am instead of what I’m not, it could be beautiful. I will not move, I promise, and I will be still—I promise­—and I will be here, reaching out to you, hoping. Please don’t disappear, Lalo. My heart cannot take this. You underestimate the power you have over me, assuming it’s so small, teasing me. Goddamn you.

I cannot take this.

When he sighs, my chest tightens and I cannot bear but wonder if he is disapproving, if I am doing something wrong, if he is staring. And I think carajo, stop overthinking this, because honestly, I am overthinking this, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve already started and until I hear Lalo say something, I can only wonder if at this moment he has realized how much he hates me. And what can you do with a predicament like that? Stay still, of course—naturally. Don’t do anything. At the sight of danger, don’t move your ass and disappear into your surroundings. If you move, you risk getting caught and you probably will—they always get caught. You can always find an animal if it removes itself from camouflage, just as how you can find a butterfly once it starts to fly. Fucking mariposas and their flamboyancy—just don’t fucking move or say anything!

“You’re tense, muñeca,” he says, finally.

Sometimes, really, Lalo, him—he’s such a bastard. If he would just open my eyes, then I could stop pretending to hear everything else. That silence where I start to hear the tiniest of bells in the distance, they’re so faint I’m not sure if they exist, and I can hear them because at least if there are bells when he is not speaking, I can have a signal that everything is fine. God, I hate those bells. Make me feel crazy. What can you do? Yeah—yes, I am very tense, too tense. When his palms smear handfuls of talc on my thighs, I can feel every speckle slipping down to my groin and I can feel every hesitant stroke between my legs as he stares at it. Turquoise turtles swimming in my veins, you nip at my soul when you stare. And I know he’s staring at it because those goddamn bells wouldn’t be ringing if I weren’t trying to find a reason for why he would tell me I’m tense when he knows I’m not supposed to respond, when he knows there is nothing I can do but lie still before him, when he knows—goddamn him, he knows; el lo sabe, carajo, el lo sabe!—that I’m not really a doll. When he knows that I’m trying the best that I can. He knows that the only time the human body is ever perfectly still is when it’s dead. You almost wonder how some animals do it. Or maybe we just can’t tell. Who knows.

Ah, Lalo. If he would just open my eyes, then I could relax and linger on his thick shag, bangs loosely covering his eyes as he looks down. It would be easier to pretend, the way he looks, to be the sacrifice to his Incan glory, to blush like a virgin and have him consume me. I could do anything for him if he would just let me see what he wants. Let me open my eyes and let me see him; let me confirm that the bells aren’t real—that the only sound that exists in this room is our breathing. And only the low hum of a night in Callao when taxis breeze by can be heard, because everything goes rotten by nightfall—that even the sailors go to Miraflores an hour away to enjoy the beach when we have one right here. Can you imagine a uniform man walking down the streets? Ha! His white slacks tacked orange from the flickering street lights, his shoes scuffing from the uneven pavement and watch your step, sailor boy, or you’ll find yourself in some shit—Bunny is the only nice whore you’ll find. The rest will eat you alive. The street fairies are too brutal.

His hands are trembling over my knees; he is almost done covering me except for one spot. And he sighs and says, “I wish you didn’t have this, muñeca, but…” He stops. “Bueno.” Well. “It is okay, I suppose.”

This breaks me more than he’ll ever know. But my eyes… If only he would just let me see how he looks when he stares. Turquoise turtles swimming in my veins, you are too cruel and I am suffocating.


Miraflores. Let me tell you something about Miraflores. I will never live there. The only reason why I will ever be in Larco del Mar is to shop for clients, not for clothes, but this is okay. Everything there is fake, anyhow, even the rocks on their beach. You know they tell all the tourists the rocks are from Peru? Those liars, they’re from Brazil, immigrated all the way from the Rio just to impress los gringos with their smoky colors next to the Pacific. You’re just like one of those rocks, aren’t you, gringo? White and bland and foreign. Miraflores is nice to your eyes because all you see are the Peruvian lilies cascading down from people’s house gates, and you think South America has all these pretty flowers, don’t you? They’re all sunset colors, speckled in their centers with brown crow’s feet; they’re all watercolor flowers for your pleasure. And the women! Oh, the women are everywhere, and they’re real, too, but don’t be fooled. Nobody loves anyone in Miraflores. I will never live there.

Still, it’s better than a shack on top of a roof, where you can hear all the rooftop dogs bark their morning calls to the sun, surrounded by their own shit and chains. Dawn is the greyest part of the day with fog occasionally misting over the flattops of our houses, and a glare that makes you squint as you try to pinpoint the slithering smoke from your cigarette in the air. There’s just a different flare to the buzz of residential living that is in Callao. The thieves are quieter during the day and the whores are sleeping, but dawn is the real moment in the day that you can say Callao is nice, that the people are nice, that a trip to the Palomino Islands sounds nice, and I stay up for this moment because aside from a duffle bag with all my clothes and letters, it is all that I have.

The striped combis start picking up passengers for their bus rides, men hanging out the doorway as they erratically drive down the road, screaming, “Callao a Ate!” Or, “Santiago de Surco a Centro del Lima!” And always, “Vamanos, venga! Come on, come on! Just get on! Worry about where you’re going later!” Cheaper than a taxi, unless you get pickpocketed, but at least the taxi drivers know how to hold a conversation. They’re the ones with degrees. Ha. Shows what they know.

I fiddle with a flyer that Bunny gave me the other night, an advertisement for a beauty pageant for los tranvestis at Casa de la Flor, a strip club that goes for casual bluntness—house of the flower, house of the vagina, same difference. She was so giddy when she gave this to me, kept saying, Ey, chica, come on! We could win money! And I didn’t know what to do but to appease her by taking the flyer from her self-manicured hands and tell her that I might leave early because I was meeting Lalo that night.

Lalo, she said, lingering the vowels off her lips, So that’s what he’s called.

It had slipped out and hearing her murmur the name I had only ever said in my mind out loud was enough to spark a threat within me, as if she had already met Lalo and just never knew his name like I didn’t, as if she was seducing Lalo before my eyes and becoming his doll, a prettier doll than I ever could be with rosier cheeks and pouty lips. And I wondered if Bunny would be allowed to move if she were his doll, if she would be allowed to whisper his name into his ear and ruffle his hair and hold his cheeks, calling him gordito because he’s a little chubby, calling him pajarito because his hands tremble and flutter like a bird when he talks, calling him anything but Lalo because she could.

I look out the box window of my shack and observe Callao begin to wake up. You know, I know nothing about Bunny. I don’t know where she lives, what her real name is, what she looks like. Once, she took off her wig once to fix it a little, brush it up, and I noticed her hair was cut as close to the scalp as possible without having to shave, like some weird buzz cut. Pitch black and coarse. She looked so awkward, especially with her buck teeth jutting out just slightly from her full lips, como un conejo. She probably gets—or got—teased for it constantly in school. It’s funny how your wounds can be sexy, no?

She’s too curious and I have never hated her for it, but she has never been in love and I couldn’t bear letting her have Lalo. What would he tell me if he chose her, I wonder. Bunnies are better than dolls. What would he see in her. She could never be still for him, I know that—wouldn’t go for it. With all that energy? Forget it. But she’d charm him somehow. She would make Lalo adore her, wouldn’t she.

I wonder, when she said my name for him, if the reason the street fairies hate her so much is because of the way she talks. Airy and light, her voice still lifted in its youth; she sings her words, letting them follow a meter to seduce the ears. And when she says your name, you will know if you hate her or not. It’s part of the reason why I’ve never told her my name. I never did want to hate her, poor thing, but damn. If she took Lalo, I’d hate her. I might even kill her. And I don’t need that, to live with that.

Why did I say his name? Stupid. Carajo, why did I let her see my fantasies?

Perhaps what hurts more is that she knew I felt threatened when she said his name. I could see it in her eyes, she knew. And no, Bunny would never take him. She’s not like that. But she knew she could, and smirked. Bitch could have killed me if she looked me in the eyes right then with all her arrogance, but she didn’t. Bunny may not know reality, but she can spot a dream in your eyes. And she’s always one for those nice illusions, those tricks and sparkles. You want to dream, sweetheart? Then you came to the right girl.

La muñeca de Lalo, she cooed to me that night. It’s a name worth marrying for, no?


For many practical reasons, a whore will not go to a strip club. No sense in supporting her watered down competition. But tonight in the pageant, El Desfile de Los Sueños, a whore can let her fantasies play out for once with potential local news reporters to shed spotlight on her. Perhaps any transvesti would love to perform their sob story for the public, except Bunny.

“They didn’t say there were going to be reporters,” she groans, covering her face.

“It’s a huge event. Why wouldn’t there be?”

As she glances at her reflection in the mirror next to mine, she frowns—something I’d never figure her vanity would allow—before confessing while primping her curls, “My mother doesn’t know I do this.”

I don’t know why I assumed Bunny was an orphan, but it’s the story of every transsexual prostitute in Lima, almost a necessity to be a part of the community. Get caught wearing a dress, get kicked out. Natural order of events.

“I figured I’d come out when I’m older,” she says. “You see the others.”

Every mariposa in the room decorates herself as best as she can. They stuff their bras or duct-tape their nipples together to form pseudo-breasts. They hairspray their wigs and draw on their eyebrows, curl their fake eyelashes and line their lips, pluck off stray hairs and bronze their jawlines. The fatter ones suck in their bellies in garter belts or body shapers; the skinny ones shove padding down their ass. Ladies have thighs, after all. The skinny ones wish they had thighs, but what can you do?  The rest is maintenance: they shave their legs, their arms, their chest, their faces, their crotches, their backs, their everything. Put breast implant samples or, fuck it, whatever that’s round into their bras. Tuck away their cocks. Transform themselves into women right before your eyes. Can you tell the difference? Can you see them beneath their camouflage? They look so beautiful, you almost wish you could touch them, but they’ll fly away on you. Never know when a man has a net in his hand to trap you for his pleasure; he won’t let you go until he’s pinned you down and stripped you raw and dissected your soul until you are nothing. Some men—well. Some men just don’t make you feel beautiful.

The stage manager rushes through the crowd, shouting, “Girls! Show starts in five minutes! If you don’t get in line, you’re not in the show!”

I look at Bunny, who fixes up her wig in front of the mirror.  

“I don’t know how I would tell her, though,” Bunny says. “How do you tell your mother you’re prettier than all of your sisters?”


When you get to the edge of the stage and stare at the electric blue lights glaring against all the sequins in the club, you can never see anyone’s eyes, just their mouths. And for some reason everyone in a crowd just sounds the same—doesn’t matter what gender—and blur into the same figure of anonymity before you, cheering you, wanting. And you can’t hear anything, despite it all—that really, when you try to listen, you can’t hear anything but a buzz, a high velocity of static ringing through your ears, pulsating against your body and squeezing your heart. It almost hurts to be alive in that pulsating beat of silence.

I remember the day I fell in love with him.

He held my hand as we sat at the edge of the bed. He didn’t want to leave, but morning had come, and the deal was that I could move once the sun had risen, like some sort of spell. Doll by night, transsexual prostitute by morning—which is better? To be honest, I didn’t want to leave either, he was always so gentle. Back then he was so shy, wouldn’t look at me if I was naked, wouldn’t look at me when we had sex.

He said, Mi muñeca, I don’t want to stare, but I can’t help it.

I still needed to get dressed, but who would have expected that he would look me in the eyes right then. Captured, right there. I couldn’t move; I didn’t want to. What’s a mariposa to do when he falls in love with the fantasy? Oh, Lalo, how could you? How could you lure me into your stare? Don’t you know that we mariposas are weak? So fragile to the gentlest touch.

How could you call me beautiful.

“What is your name?” the pageant host asks, his voice blaring through the microphone speakers as the spotlight shines down on us.

This crowd, I wonder what they are thinking. What do they see when they look at me.

“Your name?”

It’s hard to tell whose eyes are staring.


By some twist of fate, I won third place. Bunny got first, to no one’s surprise, but when they called me up and gave me a satin sash that read “SECOND RUNNER UP,” I didn’t know what to do with myself. Damn thing is the most expensive thing I own now. The money would have been nice, but Bunny never was greedy and offered to buy me some drinks as celebration after the pageant. While she drunkenly plays with her tiara, I rub the satin between my fingers, imagining Lalo’s face when I show him, which I guess is silly since I won’t be able to explain it until morning, but it’s something for him to see.

Bunny and I are sitting outside of the club with our beers since the club has closed now, and we gaze out in front of us past the street and onto the ocean view. You can barely see the ocean since it’s late, but if you squint and you try, it’s there. Ready to take you in.

“So what is he like?” Bunny asks, taking a sip of her beer.


“Tell me about him.”

I hesitate, because this is dangerous, but as I notice her take off her wig and set it on the floor, I remember how awkward she really looks and how she’s never fallen in love. So I say, “When he kisses me, I dream.”

She smiles.

“Sounds like a good kisser.”

“His breath reeks.”

She laughs then, right into her lap, and then stops, lingers with a thought and asks, “Does he know?” She looks down at my crotch, “Uh, well, you know.”



She grazes her fingers over the tips of her tiara nestled in her wig, and looks out into the ocean.  She says, “I don’t think I could do regulars.” Then locks eyes with me, “But I tell you, I’d be the best woman any man could have.”

“That’s why you won first place.”

“Heh. Right.”

For the first time, I can see Bunny beyond the magic.

“After we have sex,” she utters just faintly to herself, “they look at me like I’m just so disgusting. Que mierda, one of them told me.” She clutches her tiara. “I’m the prettiest mariposa there is, you know.” She chokes. “The prettiest fag you’ll ever see.”




It is morning. He swirls his fingers on the sash, scratching its fibers against each other as he strokes my cheek, and I have never felt so adorned. When he says my name is when I know I love him, and he coos it against my neck, “Mi muñeca, mi muñeca preciosa.

I stay still and let him love me and adore me and see me—because he is the only one who will ever see me. He is the only one who can tell my name and capture me between his fingers

without breaking me. Lalo, your eyes, mirame. Look at how I stay still for you.

“What did you tell them was your name?” he asks.

La Muñeca.

Look at how I stare.

© The Acentos Review 2014